In the sweltering summer of 1789, James Madison penned sixteen words in spare prose that became the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Herein the founding fathers of a young government pledged separation of church and state, thus guaranteeing religious freedom for its citizens and establishing a free marketplace for religion in the United States. Utterly unprecedented in Western history, this construction of a government without the interlocking authority of religion set a new course for faith and politics and has produced a vibrant religious culture unmatched anywhere in the world. First Freedom details the progression of religious liberty from pilgrims and Puritans to the creation of the Bill of Rights and how it shaped a new nation. The rich history explored in these pages through exquisite text and rich photographic illustrations increases our knowledge of—and gratitude for—a nation that protects the free exercise of faith.
- Size: 9 x 12
- Pages: 112
- Published: 10/2012
- DVD Run Time: Approx. 87 minutes
- Region: All Regions
About the Authors
Randall Balmer – A prize-winning historian and Emmy Award nominee, Randall Balmer earned a PhD from Princeton University and taught as a professor of American religious history at Columbia University for twenty-seven years before becoming the John Phillips Professor of American Religion at Dartmouth College. He has been a visiting professor at Princeton, Yale, Northwestern, and Emory universities and in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He has published widely in both scholarly journals and in the popular press. His op-ed articles have appeared in newspapers across the country, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the New Republic, the Nation, and the Washington Post Book World. Mr. Balmer has published more than a dozen books, including God in the White House: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush and The Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond. His second book, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, now in its fourth edition, was made into an award-winning, three-part documentary for PBS. He has lectured throughout the country and, under the auspices of the State Department, in Austria and Lebanon. An Episcopal priest, Mr. Balmer lives in Vermont and New Mexico with his wife, Catharine Randall, who is also a priest and a professor.
Lee Groberg has produced and directed a number of documentary films over the past twenty-five years, including American Gunmaker, Treasure House, Trail of Hope, American Prophet, Sacred Stone, America’s Choir, Sweetwater Rescue, Fires of Faith, and First Freedom, all produced for public television. Narrators for his films have included Gregory Peck, Hal Holbrook, Fess Parker, Walter Cronkite, Geoffrey Palmer, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Ed Ames.
First Freedom is one of the more rewarding film projects he has worked on. This companion book reflects many of the images from the film and includes comments from the academic scholars featured in the film.
Regarding his work on the film, Lee remarked, “It has been my pleasure to work on a story that has spiritual implications in all of our lives. These founding fathers did not share a single faith, but I feel that they were directed by a divine force that helped them establish a country where all could worship in freedom—or even feel free to not worship at all. That is the beauty of our guaranteed right of religious liberty.
“I thank my wife, Jeanine, for her unflagging support and devotion as together, we tackle these very meaningful film and book projects.”
Mark Mabry is best known for “Reflections of Christ,” the first-ever pictorial essay depicting events in the life of Jesus Christ. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Russian studies and a master’s degree in liberal studies with an emphasis in creative nonfiction from Arizona State University. Mark studied photography at The Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara and currently works as creative director at The Blaze. He lives in Keller, Texas, with his wife, Tara, and their four children.